It’s old news: the population of the United States is aging. The percentage of seniors in our population is at an all-time high, and it’s a trend that’s going to continue. It also means that it’s now more likely that a plaintiff or a defendant in a personal injury case may die before or during the sometimes-lengthy legal process. When you’re injured because of someone else’s negligence in southern California, you should have an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney either negotiate a settlement for you, or if that’s not possible, fight for you in court. But what if the person you’ve sued or need to sue has died in the interim? California law provides for such circumstances.

In most cases, the “target” of a personal injury lawsuit isn’t actually the defendant; it’s the defendant’s insurance company. If the defendant’s policy is sufficient to satisfy your claim, there’s no reason to sue a deceased person’s estate. In California, if the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit has not expired at the time of a defendant’s death, a plaintiff receives an additional year to file a lawsuit. However, some claims cannot be pursued after a defendant’s death: punitive damages, pain and suffering damages, and damages for emotional distress. These damages are typically awarded to deter future misconduct by a defendant – a goal that can no longer be met if a defendant passes away.

A good California personal injury lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case and may be able to help you win the compensation you deserve. You could be compensated for your medical care and related costs. If you are injured because of another person’s negligence in Santa Ana, Irvine, or anywhere in Orange County – even if that person is gone now – arrange to discuss your case immediately with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney.

By: Chris Purcell

Attorney Chris Purcell is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. He exclusively represents the victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Chris was part of the team that won California’s largest-ever wrongful death judgment – a $150 million verdict for a family devastated by a tragic trucking accident. In 2011, he received the Top Gun Award given by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.